At this moment, software development is one of the world’s most booming industries. Recent statistics suggest that 57% of global IT companies will emphasize more software development activities in the coming days. What do you think is the key reason behind this growing popularity? It’s because software is fundamentally essential for any business’s automation and digitalization.
As corporations of all sizes are now looking to automate their business activities through software, no matter which department you work in, you may frequently need to collaborate with software engineers. Thus, the essentiality for a modern-day professional or manager to have a thorough idea about the software engineering process is imminent.
So, let’s take a look at software process essentials now!
In this article:
What Is Software Engineering?
Software engineering is a structured managerial approach that streamlines development and provides support for a software process through the efficient application of expert methods. It helps with the standardization of the process, making it easy for professionals from different business units to collaborate with software engineers.
IEEE, a global body related to information technology and engineering, termed “software engineering” as the implementation of a structured process to build, operate and maintain software.
In simpler terms, the software process starts with clear communication with the client to understand the user's needs and requirements. Then the team of developers begins developing the software through architectural designing and coding. The final phases involve comprehensive testing, actual deployment, and necessary upgrades for smooth operation.
You may be wondering about the necessity of such a formal and structured approach in the first place. Let’s find out the reason behind it.
A Quick Look at the History of Software Engineering
During the 1960s, when computer science and engineering were in their early days, many software projects were unsuccessful because the engineers could not deliver outputs per the client’s requirements. For many projects, the budget became too high to be feasible for the companies. In the absence of a well-defined workflow, complexity increased rapidly. It was a crisis moment for the entire industry, and the period is generally referred to as the software crisis.
The necessity of a systematic approach for software development emerged to deal with this problem. Consequently, leading industry experts set defined software engineering principles.
Keeping the definition and history in mind, you might ask about the fundamentals of software engineering and how the software process works.
Software Engineering Terminology: How Can a Non-Tech Team Be on the Same Page As the Vendor?
Before discussing the complete development methodology, knowing some terminologies related to software products will be helpful. Especially if you are from a non-tech background, it will be easier for you to work with a software engineering team and understand software process models. You will also learn how to communicate effectively with your company’s IT vendor.
Here we have listed a few such terminologies:
- Software engineering management. It is the practical implementation of all the project management tasks to ensure that the software processes and services efficiently deliver the desired output. The output should meet the predetermined software specifications and benefit the client, users, and stakeholders.
- Software engineering processes. It is a framework to structure and manage the overall software development process, starting from the initial analysis of the client’s requirements to the final delivery of the finished output. The framework includes five critical components or activities of the software development life cycle, which we will discuss soon in this article.
- Software engineering models and methods. The core objective of software engineering models and procedures is to make all the related activities and workflow more structural and result-oriented. As a result, the software process becomes scalable and repeatable in the future as needed.
As you know the terminologies now, let’s dive into the software engineering process further.
Software Engineering Process: Main Activities
As we have already mentioned, software engineering is a well-defined and step-by-step approach that starts with knowing the client's necessities. It finishes with the delivery and maintenance of the software. The software engineering method consists of five distinct components or activities.
Here we are going to shed more light on those.
At this stage, a feasibility analysis is conducted based on the project's financial, functional, and technical aspects. The developers thoroughly and carefully define the functional requirements based on the requirement specifications received from the client. The team also sets the tentative deadlines for each step of the intended software design.
The core software engineering team steps in to prepare a high-level software architecture design at this phase. At the same time, the engineering team also prepares a low-level design to outline the functionalities of the software’s individual components.
At this stage of the software process, the developers write the code based on the proposed design.
Different teams participate in the coding for complex software processes, where each may cover specific areas. Senior engineers then combine the initial code. Afterward, test engineers conduct comprehensive software validation to ensure compliance with requirements. Then, before the final implementation and deployment on a server, they forward it to developers to debug the code as needed.
Based on the software system’s nature and the customer’s needs, the developer team performs maintenance activities and carries out incremental development, such as adding or modifying features. The maintenance phase of software methodology includes all of the previous four steps.
Depending on how the developers and engineers perform these activities, there are several software process models. We will explore those now.
Software Engineering Process Models
The prime goal of software engineering process models is to simplify software processes further and express them from a certain point of view. Software engineers, designers, and developers use several generic models for this purpose. Let’s check those out below:
- Waterfall model. The order for each task is followed strictly in a linear fashion. In theory, this software process model requires developers to finish each step before working on the next one. This model does not welcome on-the-go modifications; it is suitable only when requirements are clearly defined and unlikely to change.
- Incremental model. The main principle of this software process model is to provide primary implementation of the intended software systems. The developers then allow users to provide feedback and develop it further based on initial impressions. This chain of events repeats until a fully acceptable version becomes available through incremental developments. Usually, the activities do not occur distinctively in this model as they do for the waterfall model.
- Iterative model. The engineers and developers prepare a small chunk of all the features and components of a software system. Like the incremental model, the early version allows users to provide feedback on which developers can perform iterative development.
- Agile model. The agile software process model represents a group of incremental and iterative models that allows the development team to release new versions for customer feedback every few weeks. Informal and frequent communications are preferred in this model, allowing for great flexibility and customer involvement. A few prominent agile methodologies are Extreme Programming (XP), Scrum, and Agile Modeling (AM). To make this model successful, commitment from the team members is crucial.
- Spiral model. This model undertakes a risk-driven approach and also integrates some of the useful characteristics of the waterfall and prototype models. The activities take place in a loop instead of a linear sequence. Risk assessment is conducted for each identifiable risk, and mitigation measures are also taken. The model, however, has very limited use in practical situations.
- Prototype model. The prototype model involves the customers in the process by allowing them to provide quick and frequent feedback. It is particularly useful when there are ambiguities regarding the specifications of the software process. In a requirement engineering process, a prototype allows the users to experiment with the software product and to reveal its strong and weak areas.
Now that we have gone through several software development methodologies, you will find it easier to discuss the software engineering process with a potential technical partner. Moreover, you might ask if there’s a service to facilitate software development processes.
What Is a Ready Solution for Software Engineering Processes?
Well-designed software can significantly ease your business process. However, developing one is a challenging task. Asking for professional assistance will make things easier and more efficient for your business.
Geniusee is a custom software and product development company to help FinTech, EdTech, and other businesses worldwide thrive through tech partnerships. It has multiple dedicated teams with proven expertise and certifications to take good care of your software engineering tasks.
Let’s summarize what we have discussed so far. Software engineering is the process of studying the customer’s requirements and then developing and testing software applications to fulfill those requirements. The core components of the software process are:
Engineers and developers use several models for the software engineering process, and you can choose the right one based on your requirements and specifications. If you need a ready solution for your software engineering processes, feel free to reach out and see how the Geniusee team can improve your work.